1,900km down: 11,741km to go
A few locals came past in cars and on cycles during the night to see the novel sight of a bunch of foreigners camped by their local pool. One of the riders was up at 4am showering! There are a small number of riders who get up about an hour before the others, and you get woken up by their tent pole noise as they get clipped together and their tent fly opening. I have no idea why they get up so early as 5am is plenty of time if breakfast is at 6am.
I woke up with neck pain and a pounding headache and decided that a 45 kilometre ride with 1,200 meters climb I could live without, so decided to go on the bus. After the last trip (the trans Europa) where I rode the whole ride and did not get in the lunch truck at all, it has been hard mentally to adjust to not riding whole days. However, the mind may be willing but currently the body is not capable. Since I have made the decision to relax and to ride half days I have been enjoying myself again. This is what I came to do right! Enjoy myself. My day of half riding can still be 6 hours, which is not a bad effort for the day. Since I decided this I have been riding about the same but waking up without feeling the pressure.
In the lunch truck were a couple of riders taking the day off riding due to gastro, general weariness, or tenderness in the seat area. One of the riders who is continuing to ride has a boil on his butt that has had to be lanced ouch. This is where the focus on achieving EFI (doing every bit of the whole ride) can be dangerous I think. On a previous ride one of the riders ended up in hospital due to complications from boils, because they persisted in riding.
Interesting countryside today, quite steep again with every patch of hillside cultivated. Took a couple of photos of waterfalls coming down the hills.
The hotel is an interesting place, it is called the Hotel International San Agustin. It is either very old or has been built to look very old. They have a number of different blocks where they have rooms, each one has a different international theme. Sue and I are in the Asian themed block, which is like a rotounda (round) and each room is a wedge with high ceilings and bamboo pools and green walls. The grounds are lovely.
Luckily being up in altitude again (1,900 meters) it is cool, as there is no air con. Not sure what happens if it gets much colder, as there is no heating. Due to being up at high altitudes one day and then back at sea level the next, it is hot one day and cold the next, so you have to have gear for both temperatures in your daily bag.
As soon as we arrived, I headed into the hotel to log onto the Internet to send away the five blog updates I had ready. Many of the riders send huge numbers of photos once they get onto the Internet, you can’t even send a two line email. I am pleased I did as it took 20 minutes to log on. A number of the riders have not been able to get onto the wifi at all. Tomorrow I will go to one of the Internet cafes in the town, which starts about 500 meters away, and see if I can send photos. Although it may be you can only use their machines, which won’t help with sending photos.
I really enjoyed having a warm shower. Next on the list was to sort out the laundry. The white board said the hotel would do the laundry, so without thinking about it I handed mine in. One of the other riders said afterwards that they were taking theirs to look for a place in town, as the hotel was really expensive. Oh well, too late now.
I went off into town to explore with a couple of the other riders. We stopped at a cafe on the corner where a number of the riders had gathered. I had a strawberry soda, and what I thought was going to corn bread, meat, and mushrooms. It turned out to be my good old friend plantain! It was fried and hard, and was ok for dipping into the shredded meat, guacamole and salsa. I managed to eat about half of it.
I went off to have a look around. Because San Agustín is a place for tourists, there were heaps of shops selling souvenirs, which due to having no space in my bags, stayed on the shelves. So far I have yet to see a post office anywhere since I arrived in Cartagena.
We ended up spending a couple of very pleasant hours having a couple of cold beers, sitting in the corner bar on the square, watching the town life. It is a most delicious feeling to have nowhere you have to be and no jobs to be done, just the rest of the day to spend how you please.
We then went to a pizza place for dinner. I got a margarita pizza, which was clearly adapted to local taste as it bore no resemblance to any margarita pizza I have ever had before (apart from that it was pizza). It was loaded with cheese, so when you picked it up you had to hold the whole slice otherwise the weight of the cheese caused it to collapse. I had some Chilean red wino (vino tinto) – Cab Sav seems to be all the red that a lot of Colombian places sell. The owner was a German lady that had lived in the town for 35 years. The pizza place suddenly got busy so I did not get a chance to have much of a conversation with her.
I stopped at the supermarket on the way back and got some yoghurt and cereal for breakfast (they have a combo of cereal and yoghurt you can combine into one). The yogurt here is all liquid, not quite the consistency of milk but not as thick as custard. Apparently, it is like this in most countries?
I got back to the hotel and the washing was back already – 72,000 pesos (about $45 NZ) so not as bad as it could have been. Some of the clothes look brand new and have been ironed! Even my Hospi riding shirt, which was starting to look pretty manky, is looking respectable again.
Tomorrow a number of us are going off to do some site seeing. There is an archaeological site about 3 kilometres out of town.